How to Blur Background in Lightroom

How to Blur Background in Lightroom

Would you like to know how to blur background in Lightroom realistically? Do you lack a high-quality lens to make the background blurred right at the photo session? Or there is too much light and you can’t make the aperture wider?

how to blur background in lightroom

No matter, what the reason is, you still can get a blurred background effect in your images. This tutorial consists of 6 simple and quick steps of how to blur background in Lightroom with the brush blur method.

How to Blur Background in Lightroom in 6 Steps?

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Follow these 6 easy steps to make your portraits professionally blurred. Bring more focus to your subjects, add a timeless/dreamy style, and disguise unwanted objects in several clicks. To do it you need about 5 minutes.

1. Import Your Image

To import your photo, start Lightroom, find “Import” in the left bottom part and click on it.

The simplest way to import photos is to drag and drop them in the center of the working canvas.

2. Go to the Develop Module

After all the necessary images have been uploaded, you are probably in the “Library” module. You need to switch to the Develop module that is at the top of the screen.

If you can’t find it, press D to toggle over to the Develop Module.

3. Choose the Adjustment Brush

blur brush

Now you need to activate the “Adjustment Brush”. Look at the picture above if you can’t find it. Once you click on it, you will see dozens of effects, located below the brush and the word “New”.

This tool enables us to enter the settings for the layer mask, so the changes will be applied only within the mask, while the unselected parts will be left intact.

On the brush panel, there are 2 options – use a preset brush effect or create your own custom effect. The second one means that you will adjust the settings on your own.

Looking through the list of custom effect settings, you will see a special section related to blur brush effects.

Size: Specify either you need a large or a small brush.

Feather: What suits your work better – soft or hard brush? The first one fades along the edges, while the second one makes them hard.

Flow: Tune up the intensity of the stroke.

You can change them in the process of blurring, but all changes made to the picture before, will also be altered. That’s why, you need to clearly understand what setting will help you achieve the desired result.

4. Create a Background Mask

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Check whether the Show Selected Mask Overlay is activated in Lightroom. This means that the original file won’t be affected and those areas that have undergone changes will be marked in red for you to see them.

After you have set mask, you can begin painting over the parts of the image where you want to make the background blurred. Keep painting until the whole background is red. Check if all the objects in the foreground have their original color.

While painting over the background, you may need brushes of different sizes, with various flow and feather values, so adjust these parameters.

You can press “O” on the keyboard to make the mask visible or hidden. When you alter the size of the brush, you have more control over the entire image, since you can select even minor pieces of the background while the rest of the objects will be left intact.

In case, you have mistakenly selected any element, just use the Erase option under the Brush settings to fix it.

5. Adjust the Blur

After you have finished painting, deactivate “Show Selected Mask Overlay” option, so all the changes made become visible.

Even now, you can modify “Sharpness” and “Clarity” values if you still don’t like the effect you get. Personally, I set both values to -100, so the background of my photo is absolutely blurred.

If -100 seems too much for you, you can increase Sharpness and paint over extremely blurred parts to make them sharper.

If you want to increase the blurring, duplicate the Adjustment Brush, by right-clicking on the brush marker and choosing “Duplicate”. Don’t stop if you still haven’t got the desired look. Keep playing with values until you are absolutely satisfied.

6. Save Your Work

After all the changes made, you have to save and export your images, by clicking “Done” and then returning to the “Library” module, which is near the “Develop” module in the upper part of the LR screen.

Being here, select the image and click “Export”. There will appear a dialog box, where you can name your image and choose a storing folder.

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Outsource photo editing

If you don’t have time to blur background on your own, address our image editing service to get professional color correction, portrait photo retouching, and background improvement at affordable price.

Free Lightroom Presets

Use these free Lightroom presets to bring that “WOW” effect to each photo just in several clicks.

Free LR preset “Cold Wind”



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If you see that your pictures look rather monotonous and lacks light, use this preset. It boosts the mood of the photo, making colors softer and lighter.

Though it looks awesome on outdoor photos, the way it influences studio images is really disappointing.

Free LR preset “Cold Shadows”



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This preset is initially designed for portraits, giving them a mysterious finishing. It makes them more contrast and looks absolutely gorgeous on underexposed images.

I recommend using it for portraits taken in rainy and snowy weather.

Free LR preset “Pumpkin”



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The “Pumpkin” preset helps a lot if you want to give your shots romantic vibes and a cinematic tone. Though it suits all photo genres, you are sure to get the best effect with portrait, wedding and travel images.

Free LR preset “Golden Hour”



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This LR preset makes colors of your photos softer and contrast lower. It works great with outdoor portraits on photos taken near the windows. Besides, you can try it with city and landscape shots.

Free LR preset “Contrast”



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If you have photos taken in the evening, when the light isn’t so harsh, you can safely use this preset. It ideally suits studio pictures adding a tinting effect and tuning the contrast. Thus, the main element is kept in the focus.


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more